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Live in Johnson City: Open Doors Coffeehouse

If you're new here, considering moving, or have lived in Johnson City your whole life, check out this series: Live in Johnson City, a guide to Johnson City.

It all started in Johnson City as a Long John Silver in the 80s. The small corner building on N Roan and E 8th would become several different businesses over the next few years. It would be 30 some odd years later before it became the charming coffee shop it is today.

On December 5th of 2016, Open Doors officially opened to the public. Over the last four years, it has become a thriving staple to the community.

The idea for the coffee shop was born after Michael Marion finished the book "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. Mark Batterson is a pastor and author who opened a coffee shop in Washington DC. Michael became inspired by his work with Ebeneezor's Coffee and dared to dream of opening a coffee house of his own. He began traveling to different shops, learning all he could about coffee. Sherry and Micheal began praying, working business plans, and seeking counsel.

Part of this counsel was from a company called Crimson Cup. Crimson Cup is a supplier and mentor based out of Colombus, Ohio that helps coffee shops get their start and continue to run well. They know all the ins and outs of what it looks like to run a coffee shop well. The Marions decided early on to partner with them. When the shop was opening, they helped train the staff and strategically set up the shop from the french presses to the napkins. Everything has a purpose and a place.

Open Door's mission today is to serve a great product, to create a gathering place for the community, and to have a funding source for Rise Up. When people choose to grab a meal or their cup of coffee from Open Doors, it invests back into the community. "It's not just a little coffee shop on the corner, it's a whole lot more," says Ms. Sherry.

The Marions are parents to eight children, run a nonprofit and are very active within the community. When asked if it felt busy, Ms. Sherry replied, "I'm not busy, I'm fruitful." This speaks to her character and the positive approach taken to entrepreneurship.

From a young age, Ms. Sherry was an entrepreneur. She remembers selling Christmas cards to her class so she could have Christmas present money. She has done numerous things since from babysitting and daycares, to her store Redeemables. "I love being creative. I see things and wonder how can I do that cheaper and more economical," she says. The theme of creativity and entrepreneurship has always been apart of her life, these days it just has a name.

When the idea of the coffee shop was coming into play, Ms. Sherry had been running her own business, a nonprofit, and was a full-time mom. She supported her husband's dream and agreed to bring in her creative edge. While Ms. Sherry thought she would just be decorating, God had other plans. Over time, Michael convinced her to try out being a Barista. "... I was terrible," replied Ms. Sherry. She took on two shifts a week. And while she was not the most talented barista behind the bar, she decided to be the best at loving every person who came through the door and valuing them.

Her mission has become a major theme throughout the store. She explains that an intentional relationship is the most impactful. "Behind every cup of coffee, there's a face with a name. We learn a little bit about their story every time. A lot of times we have their drink waiting for them when they walk up," says Ms. Sherry. This intentionality is just a piece of what makes Open Doors Coffeehouse stand apart.

After making her impact as a barista, Ms. Sherry was shifted into management. Being surrounded by great people, she was able to learn a lot and grow in the position. Evaluating her gifts and the gifts of others has been an important part of the process, she explained. Ms. Sherry uses the enneagram as a tool for this. She is an enneagram two and Michael is an enneagram five. She loves to ask her staff what their number is as well. Ms. Sherry even follows the barista enneagram account on Instagram. "It's so funny how accurate it can be. I love watching it play out in my staff," replied Ms. Sherry.

When asked what her favorite drink was, she simply smiled and held up her cup of water. "It's funny because I don’t like coffee.. at all, but I’m learning to like tea and I’ll drink hot chocolate," explained Ms. Sherry. Although Ms. Sherry is not a fan, Michael loves coffee. He likes to get a house coffee with two shots, otherwise known as a "Black Eye."

The Marions hope to grow and multiply the coffee shop. A year into the business they almost expanded. They decided to try Kingsport but it wasn’t flourishing the way they had hoped. They decided to cut their losses and just kept moving forward. Ms. Sherry and Michael aren't stopped by what some perceive as failure. They view it as a growth opportunity and learn from it. It is still a hard process but they make room for it. This has helped them to be successful across the board. Michael continues to find new opportunities and asks, “what's the worst thing that could happen.”

Today, Open Doors coffee has become the front porch of the neighborhood. It's a business that seeks to unite and invest in the community as a whole. They donate money, feature local artists, support the youth and seek to make people feel known. It has become more than just a great spot to grab a cup of coffee. It is a staple part of what makes Johnson City a great place to live.

We are so grateful for the Marions and how they have decided to pursue their dreams. If you've never been to Open Doors Coffeehouse, you are missing out on more than just a good cup of coffee. We hope you'll swing by. Tell them we sent you.

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